Unit 61398: Is the Philippines "In Play"?

Building Housing Military Unit 61398

Unit 61398 is a Chinese military operation. It has been pinpointed as occupying an office building in China from which hacking of American newspapers and government agencies has originated.

These are official government acts. They are not anonymous hackers with bizarre ideals. It appears that China has officially authorized aggressive Chinese spying, theft and harassment of other states via the internet.

All loudly denied of course.
One is inclined to wonder if the U.S. has similar activities going on. Is that why the response from America is rather tepid? As if something must be done to pacify the newspapers that were hacked, not as if officials were horridly offended and considered this tantamount to spying or cyber-war.
I think cyber security (defense) and cyber warfare (offense) are top priority for the United States. I’m guessing the U.S. military and spy agencies practice their techniques on real-life targets of opportunity.
Iran has been subject to significant hacking. I’m sure most have a short list of the “usual suspects”: Israel or the U.S.
So with an open internet, we have the platform for open roaming and spying and hijinks. That is, theft, harassment, and even destructive acts. China’s work so far appears to be dedicated to acquiring information, not destructive acts.
If you think this is happening only “out there” and it is not relevant to the Philippines, think again. You are likely to meet this offensive behavior some point soon.
Close Up

Maybe even now, if you read Rappler or The Inquirer or other discussion threads and find the pro-China pablum popping up, or denigration of the Philippines. Are missionaries from China out to sow divisive propaganda within Philippine social media?

I would rather ask the question, WHY NOT? Why would China not seek to sow discord between the Philippines and America? Or between the Philippine people and the Philippine government?
Wouldn’t you, if you had an aggressive agenda of divide and conquer?
I am amused that so many activities within the Philippines fall into line with Chinese aims:
  • Senators Legarda and Santiago taking the U.S. to task publicly over Tubbataha.
  • Leftist political organizations trying to throw the U.S. out of the Philippines for good.
  • Get Real blogger benigno relentlessly seeking to undermine legitimate Philippine agencies.
It’s as if they do not grasp what is happening.
Now let me be perfectly clear. I think none of these cases has any direct tie to China at all. My point is that Filipinos need to be very clear on what is going on here so that they are working in the best interest of the Philippines and not inadvertently aiding and abetting the enemy. We are likely not to know when China is making incursions into social media or performing active hacking. 
China is the enemy, right?
This Call Center is Not Customer Friendly

Is that too hard a word for you?

What description would you put on China to describe her relationship to the Philippines?

Petulant friend? Greedy friend? Bossy friend?

In my mind China is not a friend because the Chinese are not interested in Philippine well-being. Even if diplomats of both the Philippines and China plaster over their acts with words of friendship.

China is not camped on Philippine rocks because she has the best interest of the Philippines in mind. Or really cares that much about Chinese/Philippine commercial linkages and trade.

Unit 61398 is not interested in Philippine well-being. Unit 61398 is interested in theft and information useful to the waging of influence. Influence is one step short of war. This is a totally different kind of conflict. No battleships or artillery or missiles or drones. Not rules of fair warfare. Just spying and destabilization aimed at target nations.

Divide and conquer.

For myself, I read the discussion thread in this recent article in Rappler (“China rejects PH arbitration move”) or look at the intense and rising volume of attack-spam that infests my blog site daily, and I am suddenly faced with a stark understanding.

This is real.
Unit 31398 is real.
Perhaps it has begun. Not war, yet. Influence. Perhaps the Philippines is “in play”.

Certainly it is prudent to expect that the more assertive the Philippines is in pursuing it’s claim to lands within the 200 nm exclusive economic zone, the more aggressive China is likely to become at exerting influence internally within the Philippines.

My advice, to myself as much as anyone:

Be cool. Expect anything. Don’t take all words as forthright truth. Expect manipulations.And be wary of people promoting thinking that is consistent with China’s strategic aim, to divide and conquer. That includes congressmen and left-wingers and bloggers. And those who comment on blogs.Do what can be done to promote unity rather than division.

26 Responses to “Unit 61398: Is the Philippines "In Play"?”
  1. You need to start being careful with those blinders. Having a strict distaste for criticisms of the Philippine government can lead you to unfounded conclusions. Dissent is healthy for any society. With your obsession with the current administration, it even leads you to misjudging what China hacking is really about.

  2. What is Chinese hacking really about? I'm not obsessed about the current administration. I'm in favor of it and appear obsessed to those who politically oppose said administration.

  3. Well, then take a step back and ask how is Benign0 in any way related to Chinese hackers. Are you really making sense?

  4. Edgar Lores says:

    1. Somewhere in China there’s a huge electronic map of the US studded with multicoloured pins that identify the sites of military and corporate knowhow. The map shows which sites China has successfully hacked, which they have not, and which must be revisited again for updates.2. Somewhere in America there’s a similar map showing the same thing.2.1 Unknown to the Chinese, the secrets they are vacuuming are studded with small details of misinformation, micro inaccuracies difficult to detect.2.2 This is the strategy, of course, known as the Trojan horse. Only this time the horse is not huge and a thing of wonder, but small and almost invisible.3. So when the China builds an aircraft carrier, the design is that of a twin-hulled vessel, with control towers amidships and each hull supporting lengthy runways. The design is that of a giant catamaran.3.1 Catamarans have three advantages over monohulls: speed, capacity and stability. Their weak point, of course, is the central platform. Split that platform lengthwise and you have two unstable hulls, reminiscent of plastic toys that have a one-hour life – if that long – labelled “Made in China”.4. It may be that the pictures of the twin-hulled Chinese aircraft carrier are fake. But the principles are the same. Stolen and copied intelligence may not be authentic. China may have the capability to steal secrets but may not have the capacity to evaluate those secrets properly. The volume would be staggering.4.1 Granting capability and capacity, you still have to manufacture the damn things. So you would have to replicate manufacturing techniques, tooling, metallurgy, etc. True, all these can be stolen too. But how sure are you that the calculations and tolerances are perfect fit?4.2 You cannot escape the basic truth that having the mentality of a second-rater will ensure that you remain a second-rater.4.3 And again the basic question: what is the use of power if you use it to demean people and misuse resources? The proper use of power is to empower the flowering of all mankind and not just a selected handful. Whether that handful is a senate, a dynasty or a church.

  5. Now, here is what Chinese hacking is about – and how it will backfire on China.

  6. I'm making sense to me but maybe am having difficulty transmitting to you. I said in the article that there was no direct relationship between benigno and China. Where there is a POTENTIAL relationship is in the flows of dissent versus the rounding up of unity in the face of a country that seeks to divide. So if the strategy of China is to divide, then those who are divisive help China. That is my point. When things get very very serious, there is a time at which divisive is destructive. To the Philippines.We are not there yet, but it is perhaps helpful to walk forward with eyes open rather than closed.

  7. Yes, Edgar, and that is what is perplexing about Chinese acts. China is eroding 20 years of progressive acts in the direction of partnership in favor of a push for power. It's almost as if the lunatics took charge of the asylum.@Angel, yes, perhaps so. But the Philippines is a case of a nation prone to violent divisiveness and coups and criticism. It has absolutely zero history of stability over any lengthy period of time, with some of the instability brought on by outsiders. Rather than people wanting to indeed support and promote stability, we have enduring political sniping and undermining. If I read BenK properly, the Get Real people acknowledge they have no intention of providing solutions, just criticism. To what end?

  8. So, dissent in the US also helps China. Those who keep criticizing Obama are helping China. Is that the logic?

  9. There are solutions or alternatives being put forward – you are simply not paying attention.

  10. Attila says:

    "it will backfire on China" What rock are you living under Mr. Dios?

  11. Did you not read Edgar Lores' comment;"You cannot escape the basic truth that having the mentality of a second-rater will ensure that you remain a second-rater."It is actually a very insightful sentence – it is too bad you missed it.

  12. It is not worth my time to pay attention to a site that spams my comments because they are not in line with the editor's agenda.

  13. Well, several thoughts on that. (1) The partisan dissent in the U.S. is indeed destructive and dangerous and I've argued that point, (2) The U.S. is more economically and sociologically stable than the Philippines and can bear more criticism, (3) criticism in the U.S. does not come with a "stage two" of rounding up people to support a coup, and (4) I'm confident the U.S. is working hard on dealing with China, scenarios 1 thorugh 999; I'm not confident the Philippines is drawing up a variety of scenarios and responses.

  14. andrew lim says:

    @Commander Joe,Pls check your email. Sent you my contributed essay. It is now relevant. @Edgar,I also noticed Chinese aircraft carriers use a sloping deck to launch planes instead of catapults. I wonder which is a better design?

  15. "Commander Joe!" Nice ring to it, Admiral. I got the essay, thanks. It will run Tuesday, after my Grace Poe article.

  16. Edgar Lores says:

    Andrew,I can imagine a sloping deck using the force of gravity to help launch planes, and there might be similar advantage in helping planes stop on landing. But my imagination asks what if the plane is unable to gain immediate altitude on launch and what if the nose of the plane smacks into the deck on landing?Perhaps the Chinese have designed planes with Asian noses, with flat probosces?!

  17. Attila says:

    "you are simply not paying attention."How lecturing others working for you? "Basic truths" will not get your country out of the gutter. Maybe you are having a "second-rater" complex? Too bad.

  18. Minutes before the attack of Iraq their missile, power, everything was brought down by NSA hackers. Hacking is for real. It is not run by mid-40s MIT Stanford graduates. They are run by tweens playing computer games.

  19. United States of America is in the gutter?

  20. Attila says:

    USA, Europe and Africa and many other places also have problems. Unless you are trying to diffuse criticism your logic will not help the Philippines.

  21. Are you misunderstanding "the second-rater" and "backfire" quotes? I was not talking about the Philippines. The Chinese are hacking sites in the US mainly to steal trade secrets. That is where the "second-rater" is coming from. If China wants to become a leader then they must come up with their own ideas and not just steal technology from the US.

  22. GDI says:

    Over the Christmas/New Year break our company ftp had break-in attempts by CHINA RAILWAY TELECOMMUNICATIONS CENTER22F Yuetan Mansion,Xicheng District,Beijing,P.R.ChinaSince we are not doing business with China, I want a country wide IP ban. Problem is somebody was distributing an XML file that contains all the China ip ranges and the website is down. Manually inputting all the Chinese ip ranges would be insane.Perhaps a "Wall of shame" sort of site could track all the ips that originated hacking attempts.

  23. Yes, that's a good idea. I presume your firm sent the information to a U.S. government agency. They might be interested in cross-correlating this with other incidents. It would be fascinating working with security agencies responsible for profiling what China is up to, and how a railway telecom center is engaged in this. Is your company in any way related to railways? Were they after industrial secrets do you think?

  24. Anonymous says:

    Grace Poe is looking genius everytime Nancy Binay speaks.Here is the documentation from the Latest News of Inquirer."Nancy Binay pleads not to hit her father personally with her rise in senatorial survey"Proof that the fruit does not fall far from the tree- VP Jojo Binay said that he did not believe the latest SWS senatorial survey because it was impossible that Honasan and Enrile dropped so steeped from ranking but he believed the result of his daughter. Binay's complaint is evidence of stupidity because if the survey method is wrong, then junk the entire method and not be selective. His daughter also said the dumb statement of "pleading not to hit her father on her candidacy" Nancy Binay forgot that it was her father who selected and included her in UNA and announced her candidacy when Gwen Garcia was dropped from UNA slate. Her father was the architect which she freely accepted to be led into the kitchen. She could not take the heat, she should have led her father to get out of the kitchen with her. Like father, like daughter- stupid reasonings.He he heJohnny Lin

  25. And never ever will Papa Binay accept accountability for the disaster of a trip to Cebu to support a law-breaking governor, or Enrile's endless bickering and Christmas gifts, the stigma of which was undoubtedly was passed to the son.It is amazing. And Nancy shows us her stuff.Thanks for the fine reporting.

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